New EU green industrial guidance agreed

The European Commission-chaired IPPC industrial pollution bureau has agreed four new sets of guidelines, or "brefs", on how to apply best environmental techniques to specific industrial fields.

Final draft brefs for waste treatments, waste management, and the surface treatment if metals were presented to the European Commission’s environment department in June. One more on the food, drink and milk industries is to be handed in after the summer.

IPPC bureau chief Don Litten said the latest developments meant that all brefs should be at least in final draft by early 2006. Under Europe’s IPPC directive, industrial installations have to use best available techniques (BAT) laid out in brefs by October 2007. New plants already have to.

Bureau meetings on the waste treatments bref raised questions about the scope of the IPPC directive, with disagreement over what waste installations should and should not be covered.

Several members of the multi-stakeholder drafting group expressed concern that waste installations not covered by IPPC would be at an economic advantage. They also stressed the need to make the directive’s scope clearer when it comes up for review in 2007.

The bref finds that air and water emissions, together with waste and soil contamination, are the main areas of environmental concern for waste management. Some 940 existing techniques were examined, resulting in a lengthy list of BAT.

The waste incineration bref covers some of the same ground as the EU’s waste incineration directive, but gives clearer guidance on questions such as energy recovery. It also suggests that lower incineration temperatures than those suggested by the directive may sometimes be appropriate for hazardous waste.

The bref stresses that separating waste streams as far as possible and treating each stream in the appropriate incinerator is “a fundamental BAT”. This could involve better coordination with upstream waste producers, and better storage and labelling rules.

Work on a bref for the surface treatment of metals ran up against the difficulty of defining good environmental performance for products as disparate as metal bolts and aeroplane wings. The final document focuses on ways to save water and materials, and on emissions, primarily to water.

The availability of substitutes for carcinogen chrome VI was discussed, but the bref concludes that while it is BAT to consider alternatives, no one substitute is suitable for all applications.

A bref on food, drink and milk (FDM) industries has been virtually finalised and is due to be presented to the Commission in November. It identifies water, waste and energy as the three key environmental issues for installations.

BAT for this sector has to balance food safety with environmental concerns, as well as respecting considerable regional differences in the EU food industry.

Huge variation in the quality and type of food processed in different installations means the bref concentrates primarily on end-of-pipe treatments, such as output segregation.

Republished with permission of Environment Daily.

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